Whatever happened to fears over “peak oil”?

by Michael Lynch, June 30, 2018 in WUWT

Very few people realize that the entire concerns about peak oil were based on misinformation or junk science.

A decade ago, the media was filled with stories about peak oil, numerous books were published on the subject (such as Half Gone and $20 a Gallon!), and even the Simpsons mentioned it in an episode about doomsday preppers.  Now, the topic is largely forgotten and the flavor of the month is peak oil demand.  Anyone concerned about the quality of research that works its way into the public debate should be curious about how so many were so wrong for so long.  (Buy my book for the full story.)

First and foremost, realize that in the 1970s, numerous analysts and institutions made similar arguments, arguing that geological scarcity was responsible for higher prices not the two disruptions of production in 1973 and 1979.  Indeed, in the months before oil prices collapsed in 1986, the consensus was that prices were too low and had to rise to make upstream investment profitable, despite the fact that OPEC production was collapsing (down from 30 mb/d in 1980 to 15 in 1985).  You would think that this would make people more skeptical about claims that geological scarcity was responsible when the shutdown of Venezuelan production and the second Gulf War cut off Iraqi supplies sent prices higher starting in 2003.